I hate fees—especially hidden ones.
You know the ones I’m talking about. It’s why we love to despise companies like Ticketmaster. See, you’re reading this right now and having a visceral reaction about the company. I’ll say it again: Ticketmaster.
Don’t feel bad; you just feel taken advantage of and a little bit dirty for dealing with it again and again. Hey, I think most of us feel that way. But our collective anger is definitely well-placed.
Last spring, a decision was rendered in a class action lawsuit brought against Ticketmaster for sneaky fees, and it’s cost it $42 million. I’d say I got the last laugh, but all I got was a bunch of vouchers I'm sure I'll never be able to redeem.
What about those airlines? How do you feel paying extra to simply not be stuck with a middle seat? I bet it feels great when you’re forced to pay to check your luggage, print a boarding pass or pay any of the other myriad fees the airlines have socked their customers with.
I don’t understand the cognitive dissonance between people in our business’ hatred for fees and the hotel industry’s growing propensity to destroy customer goodwill with them. I hear you at the cocktails trying to outdo each other with stories. Many think these fees are a clever business move. But they are going to hurt the profits and integrity of your business in the long run, and the major brands must put a stop to them.
It saddens me to see the hotel business is going to collect a record level of $2.55 billion in fees this year. That’s 4 percent more than last year. And many more people thinking your hotel or the entire brand stinks.
I’ve already shared my general thoughts on unscrupulous fees, and you can read about that here: http://www.hotelmanagement.net/dishonest-fees-will-lead-to-future-failure
However, here are some fees that if you charge, many guests will find so offensive, you may never see them or their friends again. As a bonus, if you charge any of the ones below, shame on you. I’ll never stay with you. It’s nothing personal though; just good business on the part of the consumer.
By saying a gratuity is automatic, it ceases to be a gratuity. It’s to show gratitude. Both those words share the root word grat; which is also shared by gratis, meaning free.
No matter what you call it, this is a down and dirty customer-hating fee. Many times guests are unaware of this one until check time, after already liberally greasing the staff. I’ve been a victim of this one and hated the hotel for it. Then I’ve simply stayed with the competition during subsequent visits.
This fee also sends the well-earned message to every one of your hotel guests that you’re too darn cheap to pay your employees a livable wage.
Automatic baggage handling gratuities are the most offensive of all, specifically because I never use bell service, yet still have to pay. I’m an able-bodied adult who also happens to have a bag on wheels. It’s not my responsibility to pay for your possibly superfluous staff. And if people use the bell staff then they should tip, but mustn’t be forced.
Minibar Restocking Fees
I love the convenience of the minibar. Easy access to late-night snacks and booze is a magical experience, with the added benefit of getting to be extremely lazy, too. I also knew I was going to pay more for the giant-sized box of peanuts that actually has a tiny bag of peanuts in it the moment I chose to eat them. So charge me $5 for a soda, but not $4, and a $1 restocking fee. That’s just telling your customers you don’t care an iota about them. That’s right, not even a single iota!
Charges for Unattended Parking
A new trick is coming to light that is super rude. Especially when hotel policy will inevitably be the hotel owners are not responsible for any damage to the vehicle, or personal possessions left in the vehicle either lost or stolen.
If you make money from it, then customers like me see you protecting our possessions. When you charge this fee, customers see through it and see it as blatant disrespect. If you have a suburban hotel people typically drive to, charging them for the privilege is unconscionable. That’s a lot of syllables, but I had no choice. There was no other way to adequately reflect my level of hate regarding this charge.
Baggage Holding Fees
Let me get this straight: I can’t check in until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., and I must vacate my room by 11 a.m. Now you want to charge me extra to store my bag because I have a meeting I needed to get to before hitting the airport?
This fee is so low it puts any hotel charging it up there with the airlines. That’s right, the airlines. Sorry I had to be so tough, but if you are charging this fee, you deserved it.
What is your opinion about fees? What kind of feedback have you gotten from guests? Email me at [email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and let me know your opinions.
Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.